Andre Previn and J.J. Johnson – Play Kurt Weill (1962)

FrontCover1André George Previn KBE (born Andreas Ludwig Priwin; April 6, 1929 – February 28, 2019) was a German-American pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor.

His career was three-pronged. Starting by arranging and composing Hollywood film scores for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Previn was involved in the music for over 50 films over his entire career. He won four Academy Awards for his film work and ten Grammy Awards for his recordings (and one more for his Lifetime Achievement). He was also the music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Oslo Philharmonic, as well as the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In jazz, Previn was a pianist-interpreter and arranger of songs from the Great American Songbook, was piano-accompanist to singers of jazz standards, and was a trio pianist.

James Louis Johnson (January 22, 1924 – February 4, 2001) was an American jazz trombonist, composer and arranger.

Johnson was one of the earliest trombonists to embrace bebop.

J.J. Johnson with trombone

André Previn and J. J. Johnson (subtitled Play Kurt Weill’s Mack the Knife & Bilbao-Song and Other Music from The Threepenny Opera, Happy End, Mahagonny) is an album by pianist André Previn and trombonist J. J. Johnson performing Kurt Weill’s compositions which was released on the Columbia label. (by wikipedia)

André Previn

Previn intersected most notably with Weill on a 1961 LP, André Previn and J.J. Johnson Play Kurt Weill’s Mack the Knife and Barbara-Song and Other Music from Threepenny Opera, Happy End and Mahagonny (the combo also included Red Mitchell on bass and drummer Frank Capp). Actually the disc held six more tracks: “Bilbao-Song,” the Overture to The Threepenny Opera, “Seeräuberjenny,” “Surabaya-Johnny,” “Wie man sich bettet,” and “Lied von der Unzulänglichkleit menschlichen Strebens.” Some of Weill’s songs had become jazz standards by then, but an entire album devoted to Weill’s music was unusual to say the least. (It has been reissued on CD as Lonehill Jazz LHJ10376.) Around the same time, Previn recorded “Lost in the Stars” as piano soloist with orchestra; years later he accompanied Kiri Te Kanawa on a 1991 disc that included “It Never Was You.”

Kurt Weill

Undoubtedly Previn’s advocacy gave Weill a push among jazz musicians, particularly in reaching past “Mack the Knife” and exploring other music from Weill’s Berlin years. Previn was in fact born in Berlin in 1929, and it is tempting to imagine that Weill’s music was some of the first he heard as a young child in a city intoxicated with the Threepenny Opera. (New York Times, Feb. 28, 2019)


Frank Capp (drums)
J. J. Johnson (trombone)
Red Mitchell (bass)
André Previn (piano)

Alternate front + backcover:

01. Bilbao Song (from Happy End) 4.24
02. Barbara Song (from The Threepenny Opera) 6.27
03. Overture (from The Threepenny Opera) 5.21
04. Seeräuberjenny” – 4:20 (from The Threepenny Opera)
05. Mack The Knife (Moritat) 5.19
06. Surabaya Johnny (from Happy End) 4.27
07. Wie man sich bettet (“Meine Herren, meine Mutter prägte” from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) 6.28
08. Unzulänglichkeit (from The Threepenny Opera) 5.14

All compositions by Kurt Weill